Certain M.P.s were expressing anxiety not so much over Poland*s
frontier, but rather whether Poland was to exist at all. The House was
tacitly in agreement with the Government's decision to resign from the
Baltic countries and to recognise Russia's special rights there, an action
which in no way solved the problem of the zone more important to
Britain—the Mediterranean. Parliament would not admit that a struggle
was going on between Russia and England; between Western civilisation
and the attacking Asiatic \ between imperialism and democracy; and it
supported the Government in its recognition of the * Ribbentrop-Molotov
Line ' disguised under the name of the c Curzon Line.'
Many lofty speeches were offered to the Polish people on this occasion,
including advice by Sir Edward Grigg who developed the Prime Minister's
thesis, and stated bluntly that Britain, in effect, had given * stumer'
cheques to the countries of Europe.
Sir Edward Grigg represented that section of public opinion which;,
hypnotised by the spectacle of power, followed the cult of Colossus and
considered it useless to talk of a matter which Stalin had already settled.
He could not believe, apparently, " that in this matter of the independence
of Poland " the British Government was " really fundamentally divided
from Marshal Stalin."*
The British pledge to Poland " to resist any attempt,, whether direct or
indirect, open or secret, to interfere in Polish affairs,'5 was plain ; there
could be no quibbling concerning these commitments. Britain had only
two alternatives, either to keep her word or to break it. The British
Government sought a third solution, which began and finished with the
proclamation concerning the reality of this " view of 1919." A most
interesting discussion on whether Britain had c betrayed Poland * was
initiated in Free Europe on March 10 by G. Glasgow, the well-known
political writer, who stated :
" Britain, who declared war on Germany to defend Poland, is now pre-
pared to buy victory over Germany by betraying Poland . . . Under the
stress and strain of the war, the British Government, let it be freely confessed,
had shifted its ground. Its purpose is the defeat of Germany. Every other
consideration whatsoever is sacrificed to that purpose . . . Britain puts all
her money, as it were, on Stalin. The Baltic States, Poland, Yugoslavia,
Greece—they are the price that has to be paid."
* He praised Russia's dictator in a manner unusual for a British Conservative:—
" We owe very much to Marshal Stalin" Grigg said, " I, personally, am
convinced that victory in this war would have been impossible for our cause but
for the part which Russia has played. I am also convinced that Russia could not
have played her part but for the supremacy established from 1929 onwards by
Marshal Stalin. Had he not, through the method of terror, liquidated many of his
enemies, Russia would have been reduced to impotence at this period. It was
Marshal Stalin's five-year plan, the development of natural resources, the develop-
ment of factories, the development of mechanisation, in which millions of Russians
have been trained, which have enabled Russia to roll back the German Armies and
to achieve what she has done. I believe that he will crown that great achievement
by showing that he is absolutely at one with us on this principle of freedom and
independence for the smaller States of Europe."